Last weekend it happened, I performed my first speaking engagement at a SQL Saturday. Over the past six weeks a have felt a range of emotions after clicking that submit button on the Speakers Session Submission page. I have already done a couple of posts about getting selected and my plan to preparation.
With only two weeks left I continued to practice in a different conference room at my office. I felt this gave me a feel for different setups, projector connections and acoustics to prepare for what I could walk in to when arriving in Phoenix. Each day my flow got stronger and I was more confident in the material I was presenting. There were still a couple of spots where I could just not get the words to flow very well. I kept at it focusing on those areas. Finally on the Wednesday before I went to Phoenix I caved and presented to my boss and one other co-worker. I was confident I was not going to be nervous in Phoenix giving the presentation to people I did not know, but was a little nervous and intimidated to present to my co-workers. However, after it was over I was mad at myself for not doing it sooner and to a larger audience. They both gave me great feedback and even helped me change the flow up on my presentation to make it more clear on my mission sooner in the presentation. So I appreciate them for doing that.
Friday at 4:00 am my journey began. I got up and headed to the airport. It is crazy to see the amount of people going to Phoenix that time of day. Arriving in Phoenix at 8:30 am local time was pretty good. Not a lot of hassle. I ordered an Uber and just decided to head to the hotel knowing I would not be able to get a room that early. I had some work I had promised to do thinking there was only one hour difference. But once I realized it was a two hour difference I felt bad about my commitment so I wanted to get somewhere to settle in and get some work done. Lucky me I only had to work in the lobby for about two hours and then the hotel staff had me a room ready. I have stayed at many hotels in my life and to say that the service and people at this Embassy Suites in Phoenix were excellent would be an understatement.
So I continued to work for a little bit, then I took a break and came back and practiced my presentation again for what I thought was a final time.
I got ready and took an Uber over to the Speaker meet and greet. The venue was pretty cool and the weather was perfect for a night on the patio. I met a few new people and put some faces to Twitter handles. Mostly listened to the different folks talk about their areas of interest and how the pre-cons went Friday. Headed back to the hotel around 8:00 pm to get some good rest. Unfortunately I was still on CST and was up at 5:00 am Saturday morning. So I just lounged around and decided to go through and practice my presentation again and review my outline and notes. Never too much practice!!
Got my Uber to the College Campus, not the best navigator of Phoenix I have had the pleasure to ride with, but we made it. Got checked in and listened to the first part of the keynote speech. I wanted to get over to the room I would be presenting in as I was still anxious to see the layout. Once I stepped in to room 206 I was set at ease. It was a typical college style room with the podium and project in the front. This is good, I would not have to worry about yelling or using a microphone. The room had 34 seats, so I was comfortable with that possibility. My session was the first of the day at 10:00 am. About 9:30 am people started coming in and claiming their seats. I was not really prepared for that part. Was I supposed to talk to them or entertain them? I was only really prepared for my one hour speaking session. So I just greeted everyone as they came in.
Time to get the party started. At 10:00 am on the dot, I started. My ice breaker was to take a picture of the class to prove I actually went through with this crazy idea of mine. Then I broke in to my planned and practiced opening statement. So far so good. I felt myself talking a little too fast, so I consciously slowed down and thought before I spoke. I think after that might pace was good and I hit all the points in my outline. The hour flew by and I had to actually cut a little out of my last two topics, but was still able to cover them briefly. There were a few questions at the end that I was able to answer. One lady even asked me for more detail on getting started with PowerShell. So I gave her some resources and suggestions. A handful of people told me I did a great job as they were packing up to leave. That mad me feel pretty excited that I did a good job passing on the message of my topic.
The next presenter came in and needed help getting connected to the projector. After helping her I grabbed my stuff and went out in the hall to take a deep breath and decompress for a few minutes. I then headed over to the Vendor room to see what vendors were onsite and if I knew anyone. I spoke to someone from Quest about a product offering that I did not even know they offered.
Then I talked to one of the head organizers. I asked about not seeing any feedback cards for attendees to fill out. The last time I had attended a SQL Saturday in Houston a few years ago and others they always handed out feedback cards. She said it was online now and I should have promoted it during my presentation. Well I did not know about it until that moment. So that was a little disappointing, not that I expected feedback, but I would have liked to get some since this was my first time. That and a couple other things I thought were kind of odd. I know that some of these cities have been doing SQL Saturday’s for years and it is probably routine by now. But since this was my first time it would have been nice to see a speaker packet or other material about the facility and other logistics. We were in the technology part of the campus and I could not figure out if there was WIFI available and not having WIFI made part of my demo not work as I had planned. I thought I was all good to present offline, but that was not the case. I should have had my MIFI powered on and connected as a backup plan, but did not think about it. So if I had any feedback it would be just have documentation on the different logistics for new presenters to your event.
I did not really feel like attending any other sessions, so I ordered an Uber. I splurged and ordered a Uber Black and you will never guess what showed up to take me back to my hotel.
Sunday came early at 3:00 am for my Uber back to the airport. Again, why do these people fly so early. A full airplane from Phoenix to Dallas at 5:30 am. Hit the ground in Dallas and rushed home to see my wife and son. It was a long, but short 48 hours that I was away from them. It was good to get home and mark this experience off my bucket list.